Anthropology Department

2020-2021 Anthropology Courses

This is the course schedule for Anthropology. Scroll down for more information on our exciting upper level seminars!

Fall 2020

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

ANTH 211 F01 – Silverstein
MW 13:25 – 14:45 LIB 204                IN-PERSON ONLY

In-person design / no option: This course will meet twice per week for 80 minutes as per usual Reed classes. Students needing remote access should sign up for section F02, 03, 04.

ANTH 211 F02– Silverstein
MW 15:00 – 16:20                             ONLINE ONLY

Online design / no option: The course consists of two 80-minute synchronous Zoom meetings that will combine interactive lectures, large-group discussions, and small-group breakout rooms. Some pre-recorded short lecture material may be made available ahead of time.

ANTH 211 F03 – Carpentier
TuTh 10:25 – 11:45                           ONLINE ONLY

Online design / no option. This course consists of 80-minute live-streamed interactive lectures and 80-minute student-collaboration sessions. The instructor will circulate among the collaboration sessions. All students will meet online.

ANTH 211 F04 – Carpentier
TuTh 12:00 – 13:20                           ONLINE ONLY

Online design / no option. This course consists of 80-minute live-streamed interactive lectures and 80-minute student-collaboration sessions. The instructor will circulate among the collaboration sessions. All students will meet online.

ANTH 211 F05 – Silverstein
MW 18:10 – 19:30 ELIOT 314          IN-PERSON ONLY

In-person design / no option: This course will meet twice per week for 80 minutes as per usual Reed classes. Students needing remote access should sign up for section F02, F03, F04.

Anthropology 342 - Language and Medicine

Brada
TuTh 08:50 – 10:10                           ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design/local access option: The course will be organized around online discussion and short synchronous lectures, and the class will be broken into groups of approximately 3 students to engage, either in person or online, in collaborative projects over the course of the semester. All students will have opportunities to meet with the instructor individually or in these small groups, either in person or online.

Full course for one semester. This course examines the intersection of language with practices of health and healing in anthropological analyses. While medical anthropologists have long pointed to healing as a cultural practice, they have given less attention to its linguistic dimensions. Within anthropological analyses, moreover, language as a tool of healing is consigned to biomedicine’s suspect others (e.g., traditional healing, ritual) and to the treatment of what biomedicine frames as ephemeral phenomena (minds, emotions, selves, subjectivities) relative to the body’s seeming concrete reality. This course will take a cross-cultural approach to healing, asking how linguistic anthropology can contribute to analyses of affliction broadly construed. We will also look at the history of the subdisciplinary division of labor that has made language and biomedicine seem incompatible as objects of anthropological analysis. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 343 - African Pasts, African Futures

Brada
TuTh 12:00 – 13:20                           ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design/local access option: The course will be organized around online discussion and short synchronous lectures, and the class will be broken into groups of approximately 2-3 students to engage, either in person or online, in collaborative projects over the course of the semester. All students will have opportunities to meet with the instructor individually or in these small groups, either in person or online.

Full course for one semester. This course examines the ways Africans engage the past and imagine the future. How do the slave trade, colonial rule, anticolonial resistance, the development initiatives of the Cold War era, and lingering promises of modernity figure in Africans’ perceptions, experiences, and visions of the world? The first goal of the course is to attend to the conditions of possibility that make African pasts and futures thinkable and inhabitable. We will examine the conceptions of time that have shaped Africans’ lived experiences of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, giving close attention to the material and symbolic structures these conceptions have reflected and reinforced. Our second goal is to interrogate Africa as a site of knowledge production. What would it mean to decolonize African Studies, or to center Africa in planetary accounts? Drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, our readings foreground the work of African scholars and engage themes such as: the significance of “custom“ and “tradition”; transformations in intergenerational relations; the ethics and politics of remembering and forgetting; the built environment as a site of memory and resistance; and the place of Africa in the world. Topics may include: the politics of race and ethnicity; the appropriation of African knowledge in the colonial encounter; the consequences of colonial and postcolonial development projects; and efforts to decolonize higher education. The syllabus pairs works of empirical research with suggested contemporary African novels. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 344 - Anthropology of Sex and Gender

Makley
TuTh 10:25 – 11:45                           ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design/local access option: The course will be organized around online discussion and short synchronous lectures, and the class will be broken into groups of approximately 3 students to engage, either in person or online, in collaborative projects over the course of the semester. All students will have opportunities to meet with the instructor individually or in these small groups, either in person or online.

Full course for one semester. What are the differences between sex, gender, and sexuality? And why is this important in today’s world? This course introduces students to an anthropological perspective on the relationships among sex, the biological attributes by which a person is deemed “male” or “female”; gender, the norms, ideals, and practices defining what it means to become “men,” “women” or non-binary persons; and sexuality, ideas and practices related to erotic desire and sexual reproduction. In order to understand the various debates and their stakes, we will read anthropological accounts of communities in which sex, gender and sexuality are construed very differently from our own, and combine these with discussions of documentary and popular movies and video clips. The course will provide students with ways to understand how we come to consider and express ourselves as “men”, “women”, or someone other to those categories; the social and cultural processes that shape us to act and think as particular kinds of sexed, gendered, and sexualized persons, including the complexities and dilemmas posed by intersecting subjectivities (e.g, race, class, ethnicity, religion); and the potential consequences for not conforming to those norms. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 351 - Postcolonial Europe

Silverstein
CANCELLED

Anthropology 366 - Black, Indian, Other in Brazil

Sullivan
MW 13:25 – 14:45 PERF 104            ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design/local access option: All students will meet synchronously at all scheduled meeting times, either in person or online. This course accommodates remote students.

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the status and meaning of multiculturalism in contemporary Brazil. We will raise questions on the legacies of older models of racial ideology, including such concepts as acculturation, “racial democracy,” and luso-tropicalismo. The course gives primacy to intersections of race with the production of class and gender. The course further seeks to situate social movements like the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) and indigenist politics within the larger international production and exchange of ideas regarding race, ethnicity, and social justice. Finally, in addition to core course materials focusing on academic literature, we will examine pieces from Brazilian fine art, cinema, music, and television. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Anthropology 395 - Globalization

Makley IN-PERSON/REMOTE
Tu F01 & F02 13:40 – 15:00 Online together          
Th F01 13:35 - 14:25 in person section Eliot 414 (limit 10 people)
Th F02 15:10 - 16:00 online section (limit 14 people)

In-person/Remote option: This course will consist of one day per week 80-minute online discussion, with 1 day of in-person discussions with half the class each, but for a shorter time (max 50 mins). If there are a significant number of remote access students, the course will consist of one day per week 80-minute online discussion, with one day per week 50-minute session in person for local students, and one 50-minute online session for remote students. Extra time will be made up with organized synchronous or asynchronous small group work, either in person or online. There will also be opportunities for in-person office hours with 1-3 students.

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction from an anthropological perspective to recent theories and debates about the nature of “globalization.” What is “globalization?” Why has this term become so prevalent in social theory and popular discourse in the past 20 years? What competing worldviews and political economic visions does it encompass? Beginning with influential debates outside of anthropology, we move quickly to consider the criticisms and alternatives offered by anthropologists and their interlocutors, especially since the late 1980s. Drawing on the recent spate of theoretical literature, ethnographies, and award-winning films on globalization and capitalism at a variety of scales, discussions and written assignments will address some of the most pressing and conflictual issues facing humankind today. How new are the translocal processes now labeled “globalization?” What is the nature of capitalism in a so-called “postcolonial” or “neoliberal” age? How are new forms of infrastructure, networks, economic development, and exploitation connecting different regions of the world? What forms of social and spatial mobility are emerging? What are the roles of both national states and transnational organizations and associations in these changes? How are forms of racial, ethnic, and gender difference constructed through these processes? What alternatives and resistances have been constructed? While course readings will touch on perspectives from a variety of disciplines, the course is designed to provide a specifically anthropological lens on these issues. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 405 - Semiotic Anthropology

Carpentier
M 18:10 – 21:00                                 ONLINE ONLY

Online design / no option: This course consists of 170-minute sessions. 40-minute live-streamed interactive lectures, followed by 60-minute group discussion, and then 70-minute student-group collaboration sessions. The instructor will circulate among the collaboration sessions. All students will meet online.

Full course for one semester. This course engages students with central concepts and approaches of semiotic anthropology. In our efforts to apprehend the cultural meaningfulness of language as a form of social action, we will consider the impact that theories of the sign have had on social and cultural theory. The goal is for students to gain a theoretical and methodological toolkit for understanding the fundamental role of semiotic processes in sociocultural life. In examining language as denotational code and a system of signs, we will explore linguistic ideology, agency, pragmatics and metapragmatics, and dynamics of language change (synchrony and diachrony). The readings include the classic texts of Peirce, Saussure, Boas, Sapir, Bakhtin, Voloshinov, Jakobson, Austin, Searle, Bourdieu, Labov, and M. Silverstein, among others. This course applies to the department’s linguistic anthropology concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics

Sullivan
MW 15:00 – 16:20 PERF 104            ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design/local access option: All students will meet synchronously at all scheduled meeting times, either in person or online. This course accommodates remote students.

Full course for one semester. This course offers a critical examination of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” notable for the influence of such scholars as Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Challenging universalist assumptions that posit an inert and inanimate world of objects as a backdrop to human action, the study of the cultural and historical specificity of ontologies presents alternative views about the nature of what exists. Observing the things that populate, and the processes that make, the lived and known experience of anthropology’s ethnographic subjects draws attention to contrasting knowledge regimes. Consideration of alternate ontologies allows Euro-modernity’s “others” articulation of their own bases of knowledge, logics of practice, and courses of action. However, how anthropologists approach such considerations entails its own sets of political terms and stakes in knowledge production. This seminar examines anthropological debates about how to analyze and address the political tensions that arise in settings where nonmodern beings and forces are recognized and addressed by “other'' political actors. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Anthropology 541 - Global Health: Critical Perspectives

Brada
MALS Course 0.5
Tu 18:00 – 19:30 ELIOT 216             ONLINE/IN-PERSON

Online design / local access option: This half unit course will meet synchronously online Tuesdays 6:00 to 7:30 pm. There will be opportunities for local students to meet in person.

One-half course for one semester. This course proceeds from the assertion that global health, rather than the distribution of health services across the world, is an intersection of social, biological, and geopolitical relationships that the COVID-19 pandemic both reflects and may radically transform. Our first investigations will be historical, identifying the main actors, institutions, practices, and forms of knowledge that have defined global health over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Turning to anthropological perspectives, we will examine the social, political, and economic factors that shape patterns of suffering and disease across societies as well as the efforts taken to ameliorate them, placing present-day developments in historical perspective. We will consider the unexpected consequences of global health programs for patients and professionals alike, and we will examine the limits of global health with regard to phenomena such as noncommunicable diseases and ecological concerns. Throughout the course we will keep COVID-19 squarely in our sights. Key topics include the management of epidemic diseases; tensions between clinical research and access to treatment; the rise of transnational humanitarianism; and the intersection of zoonotic diseases and climate change. Conference. 

Spring 2021

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

Anthropology of Global Health
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural and medical anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Global health presents itself as a timely intervention that redistributes the means of physical and mental well-being to those who lack it, typically in resource-poor or underserved settings. But in what sense is global health “global” if it is driven by the agendas of specific nations and institutions? How can it command such implicit recognition as a force for good and yet seem to recapitulate the imperial agendas and perspectives of the colonial era? Rather than considering global health as obvious, coherent, and necessary, we will examine its foundations: What assumptions does global health reflect about bodies, families, history, and biomedicine itself? In what ways do global health programs build upon or distinguish themselves from colonial-era medical campaigns that tied biomedical interventions to Christianity, modernization, and the demands of industrial labor? How does global health both reflect and perpetuate transnational political and economic shifts? What are the unexpected consequences of global health programs—for the individuals who compose target populations, but also for global health professionals themselves as well as local experts? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on recent ethnographic analyses from around the world as well as historical studies that illuminate global health’s antecedents. Conference. 

Language, Culture, Power
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in linguistic anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. Language permeates our lives, identities, and relationships, yet most of us take it for granted. This course introduces students to some of the foundational concepts, methods, and issues addressed in linguistic anthropology. Starting with the basic premise that language, thought, and culture are inextricably intertwined in practice, we take a fundamentally comparative and global perspective on the study of language. We will consider language not as a simple means of communication, but as a medium through which values, subjectivities, and sociopolitical relationships are created and transformed. We ask: How do differences in language affect how we think and act? How do people do things with language, and how does this vary across cultures, times, and places? How does linguistic communication interact with nonverbal or embodied forms of communication? What ideologies of language shape our understandings of difference and hierarchy? In exploring answers to these questions, we will draw on media resources, natural language examples, and recent ethnographic analyses from around the world to consider the ways in which language is implicated in power struggles within specific domains of social relationships (race, class, gender, sexuality) and institutions (education, medicine, law, immigration, electoral politics). This course applies to the department’s linguistic anthropology concentration. No prerequisite. Conference. 

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography

See Music 305 Description

Anthropology 345 - Black Queer Diaspora

Full course for one semester. This course examines ethnographies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people across the Black diaspora. The history of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and their ongoing aftermaths have created both interlinked and locally variant lifeways across the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Black queer studies queries the creativity and variation with which Black people have been shaped by and continuously reshape these histories, undermining presupposed norms of race, gender, and sexuality. We will look at ethnographic explorations of these particulars, differences, and commonalities as documented in texts, images, and sounds across multiple disciplines. We interrogate how conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality shift across time and space and as lived by Black social actors who both participate in and defy colonial and nationalist projects. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 361 - The Middle East: Culture and Politics

Full course for one semester. The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region’s internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides both an anthropological overview of the region’s political culture and cultural politics, as well as a critical inquiry into the very anthropo-geographic categories that have historically sustained a sense of unity in the region, including tribalism, honor and shame, religious piety, and poetic practices. In the process, the course explores larger comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, sectarianism, urbanism, and globalization. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 363 - Race and Transnational China

Full course for one semester. Debates about forms of perceived or imagined social difference have a long history among people who identify as Chinese, including negotiations of diasporic relations with a Chinese homeland, now claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those debates took on new urgency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for Chinese intellectuals faced with the threat of Western colonialism, the imperative to establish a sovereign nation-state, and the concomitant rise of Western modernity discourses that were grounded in notions of essential biological differences hierarchizing human “races.” Yet since the emergence of the PRC as global power in the 2010s and President Xi Jinping’s effort to extend Chinese infrastructure development and investment programs to over 70 countries worldwide, transnational China has seen reintensified debates about social difference and the meaning of Chineseness, as well as the rise of new mass-mediated Han Chinese nationalisms. In this course we engage multimedia sources (texts, videos, images) to explore these most recent debates in historical context. We do this as a way to dialogue with critical race theory, and to delve into the high-stakes interpretive politics of “race” and “racism” transnationally. As many Chinese scholars and netizens ask: are these English language terms even applicable in the very different cultural, historical and political economic contexts of transnational China? We start with comparative theoretical debates about the nature of “race” as historically situated perceptions and claims about biological/embodied difference. We then turn to debates in recent Chinese contexts to consider for example the relationship between discourses of “race” and “nation,” the nature of “Han-ness,” the status of “ethnic minorities,” and the status of “blackness” amidst increased Sino-African engagement. Our goal will be to expand our understandings of the stakes and contexts of cosmologies and ontologies of social difference and inequality transnationally. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 375 - Anthropology of Science

Full course for one semester. This course examines scientific practices and knowledge as cultural, social, and political phenomena. Scientific knowledge often appears to be none of these things, and so central questions of the course are how such knowledge is produced and how it is able to transcend its context. The course begins with a set of orienting texts from Kuhn, Foucault, and Latour before turning to ethnographic and historical work on science and expertise, with an emphasis on feminist and postcolonial approaches. Along the way, we ask how the questions and methods drawn from the study of science can reshape larger anthropological understandings of the political and the social. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 393 - Ethnographic Methods

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to help students develop the necessary skillset to conduct anthropological fieldwork. Throughout the course, we will address many of the current methodological and ethical quandaries of the discipline during our engagement with contemporary ethnographic work. Students will learn qualitative methods, including participant observation, interviewing, and ethnography. We will practice these skills by developing research questions, designing viable studies, and conducting original research. We will focus these practical applications to develop the students’ ability to productively and ethically record, analyze, and represent anthropological findings in writing. Students will mobilize these skills, and utilize qualitative research software, in the completion of a semester-long ethnographic project. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 413 - Protean Sovereignties

Full course for one semester. The course examines “sovereignties,” paying particular attention to the shifting conceptions attached to the term from early modernity to contemporary times. Drawing upon a wide range of literature on the topic, we will situate the discussion within anthropology as deeply intersubjective juridical, political, and social phenomena. A critical discussion of “sovereignties” will help us better understand related sociocultural phenomena such as nationhood and nationalisms, bureaucratization, power, and hegemony. We will begin with early authors and follow a historical trajectory, which we will use to critically examine moments of sovereign enactment occurring throughout recent history. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 461 - Theories of Practice

Full course for one semester. Social theorists have long struggled with delineating the precise relationship between social structure and human agency in the explanation of extant cultural forms and their transformations over time. This course explores one set of proposed solutions generally classified under the rubric of “practice theory.” Building from the social philosophies of Elias, Bourdieu, Giddens, and de Certeau, the course examines how practice theory has informed anthropological inquiry and constituted a response to seemingly determinist theories of human behavior associated with structuralism and structural functionalism. Contemporary anthropological work by Marshall Sahlins, Sherry Ortner, and the Comaroffs, among others, will be read in light of earlier disciplinary engagement with the structure-agency question, including by Manchester School ethnographers. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.